By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A horse barn near St. Cloud has become a message board for a soldier thousands of miles away.

What started as a personal project for his family has become a local attraction — all for Marine Andrew Schreiner, who was deployed to Afghanistan in April.

Drive along the back roads of Stearns County and you will see farm place after farm place. But near the town of St. Wendel, one farm sticks out a little more than the others.

“He’s funny. He’s compassionate. He’s strong,” said mother Christine Schreiner. “He’s brave. He’s brave, except for spiders. He hates spiders.”

The name on the side of this barn is a giveaway that Christine Schreiner is talking about her son, Lance Cpl. Andrew Schreiner. When he deployed for Afghanistan, Christine wanted Andrew to know how much he was loved and missed.

“Go big or go home. It’s what I’ve always said. If you are going to do something, go all the way,” Christine said.

So with the help of family, she did.

About a month ago, they used a projector and worked until 2:30 a.m. to outline two very clear messages, including one directly to Andrew, which said, “We love you, Andrew.”

The other read, “God Bless Our Troops. The Few. The Proud. The Marines.”

The next day, in 95 degree heat, they painted them in. What they didn’t expect was the response they would get. From those passing by with a honk and a salute, to random people stopping by to write their own message.

Now, more than 50 well-wishes cover the barn.

There’s even one from Andrew’s niece, Juno.

“It really almost brings a tear to my eye,” said Andrew’s dad, Russell Stanger. “I’m so happy that people are supporting the troops and my son so much.”

Andrew’s girlfriend, Sara Van Heel, feels the same way.

To her, these are so much more than words on the side of a barn.

“Every signature is a shoulder to cry on. If needed, you know, it’s there,” she said.

Andrew’s family isn’t sure when he’ll return home.

So they are inviting anyone to stop by and sign the wall — even if they aren’t home.

The family gets a lot of honks and they even had a motorcyclist drive by one day and salute them for an entire mile.


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